(Head Coach: Jay Wright, Big East Conference) – Heading into this season, Jay Wright led No. 9 Villanova to an average of 31.8 wins over the previous six seasons, which includes four Big East championships and two National Championships (2016, 2018)…with no scholarship seniors on this year’s roster, all five starters are expected to return next season, led by junior Collin Gillespie, sophomore Saddiq Bey, and freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl…this will be Villanova’s third appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project…the Wildcats played in 2002 and 2012, where they fell in the championship game.
(Head Coach: Juwan Howard, Big Ten Conference) – Head coach Juwan Howard returned to Ann Arbor for his first collegiate coaching job in 2019-20 after spending the last six years with the Miami Heat and began his collegiate coaching career with seven straight wins, including wins over two ranked opponents…afterwards, Michigan made the biggest leap in AP Poll history, going from unranked to the No. 4 spot…the Wolverines are expected to return 13 letterwinners in the 2020-21 campaign, including two of the 2019-20 team’s top scorers in Eli Brooks and Isaiah Livers…the Wolverines also have the No. 4-ranked 2020 recruiting class in the nation (per ESPN.com)…Michigan will be making its third appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project, winning the event in 2016.
(Head Coach: Scott Drew, Big 12 Conference) – No. 1 Baylor sports a 16-1 record and sits atop the national polls…the Bears’ No. 1 ranking is the second in school history, having previously been No. 1 on Jan. 9, 2017…head coach Scott Drew is in his 17th season at the helm of the program and is Baylor’s career leader in wins and winning percentage…four starters are expected to return next season, including the Bears’ top three leading scorers, led by sophomore Jared Butler and junior MaCio Teague…the Bears’ 2020 recruiting class is ranked No. 18 by ESPN.com…Baylor will make its Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project debut in November.
NC State Wolfpack
(Head Coach: Kevin Keatts, Atlantic Coach Conference) – Kevin Keatts is in his third season leading the Wolfpack and has turned NC State into a scoring machine…his first two teams each averaged over 80 points a game, something that had not been done in Raleigh since the 1995-96 season…four starters are projected to return next season, led by junior Devon Daniels and sophomore Jericole Hellems…NC State will also welcome the No. 9-ranked recruiting class in the country (per ESPN.com)…the Wolfpack previously played in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project in 1997.
Duke Blue Devils
Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in college basketball history with 1,018 wins, led the Blue Devils to their fifth National Championship and a 35-4 record last season…the roster boasts four returning rotation players in Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones, and Marshall Plumlee…the Blue Devils bring in the top recruiting class in the country, highlighted by three McDonald’s All-Americans (Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard, and Chase Jeter) and standout point guard Derryck Thornton…Duke will be making its third appearance in the 2K Classic (1999 and 2008), winning the 2008 title. Official Site
Head coach Bo Ryan is Wisconsin’s all-time leader in wins, amassing 357 victories in just 14 seasons…last season the Badgers claimed the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles with a 16-2 league mark to go along with a 36-4 overall record in advancing to the Final Four for the second straight year and the Championship Game for the first time since 1941…11 players, including two starters, return in 2015-16, led by junior forward Nigel Hayes (12.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and junior guard Bronson Koenig (8.7 ppg, 98 assists)…Wisconsin will be making its first 2K Classic appearance.
The Hoyas went 22-11 a season ago under the direction of head coach John Thompson III, who, in 11 seasons at Georgetown, has won 249 games…the Hoyas feature a roster with 10 players back from last year, including a trio of starters…senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led Georgetown with a 16.3 ppg average as well as with 101 assists in earning first-team All-Big East honors…sophomore forward Isaac Copeland averaged 6.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg…this will be Georgetown’s first 2K Classic appearance since 1998. Official Site
VCU is under the direction of new head coach Will Wade in 2015-16, who returns to VCU after two successful seasons at Chattanooga…the Rams, 26-10 a season ago, boast a roster featuring 10 returning players, including three starters…among those returning are senior guard Melvin Johnson (12.4 ppg, 60 assists) and junior forward Mo Alie-Cox (7.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg)…this is the Rams’ first ever 2K Classic appearance. Official Site
In 2015-16, the Bulldogs posted a 16-15 record in advancing to the semifinals of the Northeast Conference tournament…head coach Tim O’Shea is in his eighth season at Bryant, having taken over when the school made the jump to Division I…three starters return, led by second-team All-Northeast Conference pick junior Dan Garvin, who was second on the Bulldogs in scoring (10.9 ppg) and first in rebounding (7.9 rpg)…senior guard Shane McLaughlin led Bryant with a 4.8 assist per game average while netting 7.5 ppg. Official Site
Prairie View A&M
Head coach Byron Rimm II is in rebuilding mode at Prairie View where he looks to replace four starters from a squad that posted a 15-18 mark a year ago and reached the semifinals of the SWAC tournament…senior guard Jacoby Green played in all 33 games last season, starting 10, and posting an average of 3.7 ppg…junior guard Jayrn Johnson also played in all 33 games and netted 4.4 ppg…the Panthers last appeared in the 2K Classic in 2008. Official Site
The Highlanders recorded a 22-12 ledger in advancing to the quarterfinals of the CBI for the second straight season last year…the 22 wins also marked the second-straight 20-win season for Radford, which won 20 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1998…head coach Mike Jones is in his fifth season at Radford and has turned around the Highlanders, winning 19 games in his first two seasons and 44 in his last two…two senior starters return: guard YaYa Anderson (9.3 ppg, 50 assists) and center Brandon Holcomb (6.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg). Official Site
Siena returns three starters from a year ago, one of which appeared in only six games…junior forward Brett Bisping, the MVP of the 2014 CBI, had surgery on his toe in December and missed the reminder of the season…junior point guard Marquis Wright (12.5 ppg) is the Saints’ leading returning scorer while junior swingman Lavon Long posted 10.4 ppg and a team-high 4.9 rpg…head coach Jimmy Patsos is in his third year at Siena. Official Site